Sweaty Spice, the other Spice Girl

As part of my Apple One subscription, included is access to the Apple Arcade. I had the 1 month trial, and I wasn’t too impressed. But this time, I invested in a controller, and I am playing on my Apple TV, and some games are good, and some are - well - Meh.

But one was rather addicting. The Last Campfire. The premise is that you are this mythical entity who is trying to find and restore vitality to these “Embers” that are inactive. To do that you have to find the embers that are forlorn, and that enables the puzzles that you need to solve to reanimate the forlorn. Once you have reanimated the lot of them, you can move on to the next “tier”.

Essentially, it is a series of puzzles that you have to solve, and the ember/forlorn theme is merely to keep you engaged.

So, it is a puzzle solver slash adventure story game.

What I liked

The Last Campfire is very soothing. You are not at risk of dying so, unlike first person shooters, so there isn’t a fight-or-flight reflex. The graphics are high quality, and fun. The world is fairly open, and you will spend some time exploring, and figuring out where to go, and what to do. It doesn’t coerce you to follow a narrow path or order. (N.b.: this is also one of my gripes)

The puzzles escalate in complexity as you progress, and there are a couple that took me a lot of time to figure out. I liked that a lot.

At first, I was turned off at the campiness of the story (no duh, “Campfire”?) and the pedantic emotive voice that reads the clues for your poor Ember.

But after I solved a handful of the puzzles, the voice, the story, and the progression grew on me. It was comforting.

What I disliked

I found myself going round and round trying to find the last bits I needed to move on, and the subtle clues were at times tough to find. Not a fault of the game, but it is me.

I would have liked a “map” so I could see where I had been. That might be my age, and familiarity with FPS’s from the 90’s speaking.

In the middle campfire, I struggled to get done with it, and had to run around and around to find the last clue. Probably my fault, because I failed to “activate” the campfire.

A couple of the puzzles were tough. Not obvious, and I will admit that I searched for a little help.

The net

It took me about 5 hours to complete the game, about an hour spent roving around to get past the middle campfire. I began playing on my Mac, but gave up because it frankly sucked with the trackpad and keyboard. Once I got my AppleTV (to replace the shitty streaming of my Tivo Roamio) and bought a separate Xbox controller for it, it became a much better experience.

The game is cute, and fun, and challenging. A pleasant way to spend a couple of afternoons.

It is not a game to return to, although there are a few extra tasks that can extend it and provide some interest (the play around the Chef and bringing him the lotus seeds to cook with).

I wouldn’t open my wallet to buy it stand alone, but as part of my Arcade subscription, it is a winner.

Recommended.

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